Most people that bet tend to have a favourite bookmaker. There can be numerous reasons for this, including the idea that they get better value from Bookie A over Bookie B, or they simply like the layout of that particular company’s mobile site or app. Whatever the reason, when you’ve got a chosen bookmaker you really don’t want to have to bet with another company, not least of all because you might have to go through the process of opening a new account, completing the Know Your Customer information and deposit money.
The problem is, many football clubs, racecourses and other sporting occasions have tie-ins with some betting companies and not others. As a result, if you wish to use the Wi-Fi of the venue that you’re in then you’ll quickly find that your chosen bookmaker is unavailable and you are forced to use the bookie that the sports club or venue has a deal with in order to place your bets. Given Wi-Fi can be necessary for getting online when lots of people are all together overloading local 4G and 5G masts, there is an extent to which this can be a difficult thing for some to cope with.
Betting On What You’re Watching
Virtually everyone in the modern era has a smartphone. These devices can be used for so much more than just making phone calls and sending text messages, up to and including the ability to download apps or visit websites that will allow you to place bets on sporting events. If you’re actually in attendance at a particular event and are the sort of person that likes to place bets, it makes complete sense for you to want to combine those two activities and have a wager on the event that you’re able to see play out in front of you.
Though most contracts with mobile phone providers offer users plenty of data, not everyone has a contract that allows them to get on the internet whenever they fancy. Even if people are happy to use their mobile data it is not always possible at big events as lots of people trying to connect through the same mobile mast can cause it to overload. It is also possible, as with many racecourses, the local data masts may be far away and you may have poor or no signal.
As a result, it has become almost second-nature for most people to arrive at a venue and log on to any available Wi-Fi. There can be numerous reasons for doing this, which we’ll look at in more detail shortly, but the upshot of it all is that you can sometimes be beholden to the internet provider in terms of the sites that you’re able to visit and use when you want to.
As soon as a company is offering you access to the internet, they’re able to look at the sites that you visit and dictate any ones that they don’t think you should be able to. Anyone that has ever experienced any time in hospital and tried to use the hospital Wi-Fi to get onto their favourite betting site will know what we’re talking about here. Hospitals and other government Wi-Fi often have blocks in place on betting sites, meaning that any attempt to load one up will be greeted by a page explaining that the site you’re trying to visit can’t be accessed.
This, it’s fair to say, can make it extremely difficult to bet on the event that you’re physically watching; or at least to do so with your betting company of choice. Instead of being able to login nice and easily and bet on what you’re seeing play out in front of you, you find that your chosen bookmaker’s website or app is unavailable to you and you are instead redirected to the betting company that the host venue has a sponsorship agreement with, meaning that you need to decide whether to open yet another betting account.
Why You Need The Wi-Fi
There can be a whole host of reasons why a person might need to use a public Wi-Fi system. The simple truth is that not everyone has unlimited data and therefore might not be able to connect to the internet without using the available Wi-Fi. It is also quite common for local masts to be overwhelmed when loads of people are in the same area and are all trying to connect to it at the same time, meaning that there’s no choice but to try to connect to Wi-Fi in the area for those hoping to use the internet to place a bet or contact people.
There would be nothing better and easier for most people than to turn off the Wi-Fi on their device and connect to the internet using 3G, 4G or 5G. That would mean that they were masters of their own destiny, able to visit whichever websites they so choose and bet with whatever company they would like to. Anyone that has ever been somewhere with large crowds of people will know, though, that using your mobile data is close to pointless when you’re in the same space as a large number of people, given the locals masts struggle to cope.
Local masts aren’t designed to deal with a huge volume of mobile traffic all at the same time, meaning that they will prioritise phone calls over data usage. Even that doesn’t always work out, with lots of people trying to use the phone at the same time often resulting in not even phone calls going through in the manner that you’d expect them to. The result of this is that the masts are overwhelmed and people need to find an alternative method of getting onto the internet, with any available Wi-Fi being the obvious route.
A football club that has a sponsorship deal in place with a sports betting company will be aware that they will benefit from users signing up to place bets with said company. As a result, what they don’t want to do is to allow punters to use any old betting site, instead redirecting such queries to the betting site of the company that they’re sponsored by. It might seem unfair, but the truth is that it makes complete sense in a capitalist society and any business not redirecting customers where they want them to go is missing out on revenue.
The same sort of thing is true at racecourses and for very similar reasons. A smaller course might not have any sort of sponsorship deal in place, whereas the likes of Aintree Racecourse and Cheltenham Racecourse most definitely will; especially if you’re visiting them when the likes of the Grand National or the Cheltenham Festival is on. Why would a betting company that is paying good money to sponsor such an event be happy with the idea of customers using the Wi-Fi they’re essentially paying for to visit a rival site?
The courses themselves also want you to use the real-world bookies based therre, we all know you can get better odds, concessions and offers online and so part of the point of restricting access to betting sites at courses is to support these bookies who are local and contribute to the local economy, as well as paying the course fees to have a pitch.
Wi-Fi restrictions feel unfair when you’re trying to access a site that you want to use but are unable to, but the companies that encourage the use of such restrictions won’t think that they’re unfair at all. Instead, they’ll be keen to point out that they have invested money in sponsoring the events or venues in question, with that money being put towards something such as infrastructure. As a result, they want their pound of flesh, which comes in the form of potential new customers being directed their way by the Wi-Fi.
It is also something of a question of professionalism. If you were the gambling company sponsoring the Cheltenham Festival and walked around the venue on the day of the Gold Cup and could see scores of people using their phones to bet on the races with a rival, how would you feel? Little wonder, then, that restrictions are put in place on exactly which sites can and can’t be accessed by people attending any given event. The sponsoring brand is the one that must be pushed forward with bettors as much as possible.
How To Avoid The Restrictions
There are a few ways of avoiding the restrictions that are put in place by venues that you might want to think about. The first and most obvious of these is to use your mobile data, but we’ve already covered why that might not be possible for everyone. That being said, if you have enough data and it is just about the sheer number of people trying to connect to the mast that is stopping you from using it, one thing that you can try to do is to get yourself to somewhere where there are fewer people, which might let you connect.
Sometimes that’s not possible, however, especially if you’re somewhere where there is assigned seating, such as a football game. If this is the case, one of the things that you’ll want to consider is the use of a VPN. The acronym stands for Virtual Private Network and there are countless companies out there that offer the service. In essence, logging in and using a VPN allows you to ‘spoof’ the network that you’re trying to connect to into thinking that you’re based somewhere other than where you actually are.
It is the sort of thing that is recommended when you’re trying to watch the US version of Netflix but are in the United Kingdom, for example, meaning that you need to fool Netflix into thinking that you’re actually based in the United States of America rather than the UK. It is also a handy tool if you want to place bets when you’re in a country where online betting isn’t allowed, meaning that you can trick your betting company into thinking that you’re in a country where it is allowed when you’re trying to get your wager on.
As always with such things, we recommended caution when using them and advise you to investigate what the legalities are at any given moment. The key reason why we’re talking about them here, though, is that they work in several ways, including tricking a network that has got restrictions on it into thinking that you’re not visiting a site that you are actually visiting. A VPN would allow you to use your betting company of choice even if you find yourself somewhere where they’re trying to funnel you into using a different betting company, such is the manner in which they work.
This is obviously ideal, giving you the benefit of Wi-Fi but the anonymity that comes with the use of a Virtual Private Network. As an aside, it’s actually just good practice to use a VPN when on public networks in order to keep your information safe, so buying a subscription to one in order to place bets how and when you want to isn’t necessarily a bad idea. It’s personal choice, of course, but the internet remains the Wild West of personal information and you’d do well to take any precautions you can to keep yourself safe.
Is It Wrong?
The final thing to consider is whether or not this practice is actually wrong. We’ve already discussed why it happens, with money being the most important factor in any reasoning. The question is, is it wrong of businesses, football clubs and venues to try to force people to use the betting company that they have decided is the ‘correct’ one? Most bettors do heaps of research before choosing a betting company to sign up to, weighing up things such as the offers they’ll receive and whether or not they can bet on an exchange before taking the plunge.
Why is it that someone else feels that they can dictate to you which site you should or shouldn’t use for your betting? On top of that, in a day and age when the United Kingdom Gambling Commission is trying hard to ensure that people aren’t becoming problem gamblers, a decision that might force someone to open a new betting account with a company that they haven’t gambled with before feels problematic at best. Yes, the business that has a sponsorship deal in place will want a sense of ownership, but when it comes at the expense of choice, is that something we should all be wary of?